TON-UP NIKO AS 1STS MARCH ON

As Jubilee weekend rolled round it was celebrations on the pitch for our Saturday sides with both enjoying decent victories. The first XI maintained their league topping spot thanks to another emphatic all-round display away to Heaton, while the 2nds chased down 161 to beat a valiant Darcy Lever side who belied their lowly league standing with a fighting effort. All that was missing was a corgi or two.

Over at Heaton, it was a flying start for Totts, with Bret once again teeing off and racing to 49 in rapid time. Having seen his opening partner fall just shy of his half century, Niko then took up the mantle and, with good support form the top order, Totts flew to 230-2 with few alarms. Niko's ton came up at better than a run a ball, and JB followed last weekend's promising knocks with another excellent 45. A typical TSJ collapse did of course occur, with a remarkable last over seeing five wickets go down as the team imploded from 266-5 to 266 all out!

That sort of total is never going to be easy for any opponent given the quality of our bowling attack, and after last weekend's heroic 11 wickets, Burnsy once again took centre stage. After the Heaton openers had managed to put on 40, Lenny and Burns destroyed the middle order, which collapsed from 40-0 to 77-8. A late cameo from Lightbown raised the home side's score to 128 but this was another impressive bowling display. The pro ended with 4-52, while Niko followed his century with 3-31 to back up the openers. More of the same next week please!

Over at a somewhat chilly Crompton Meadows, Kieran continued his 100% home record of losing the toss and visitors Darcy Lever elected to bat. It looked a poor decision at first, as Bradders took a wicket with an absolute gem of a first ball and the returning Nick Marsh then weighed in with three early wickets as the away side collapsed to 32-6. There were smart catches from Doc and Birdy, both topped by a sublime effort at mid on from Kev who leapt like a young(ish) salmon to pouch a blinder. Vasta and Smethurst then rebuilt the innings and despite KC ringing the changes, the game turned dramatically with a seventh wicket partnership of 110. Three crucial catches went down with the score still in the 60s and had it not been for Bradders and Nick returning to end the innings the final score of 161 could have been a lot higher. The opening bowlers shared all ten wickets, with Nick picking up an impressive 6-19. It was a decidedly odd performance from the 2nds, who mixed moments of brilliance with some average bowling and fielding along the way.

The Totts run chase got off to a steady start, though Kieran had picked up a knock and was really struggling to move between the wickets. Despite this, the skipper and Tom brought up the first half century opening stand of the season before Kieran departed for a slightly frustrated 31. The Doc soon got into his stride and despite losing Tom shortly afterwards for a steady 28, a partnership of 54 with Watty put Totts firmly in the driving seat. Watty was given out to a somewhat debateable LBW before Nick joined Paul at the crease. Doc brought up his third 50 of the season from 60 balls before a ridiculous LBW sent him on his way with just 15 needed, and it was ultimately left to Kev and Proopsy to get us over the line for a comfortable five wicket win.

This was a really good, sensible run chase, especially given the struggles in the past couple of weeks, and it resulted in a much needed win. There were some excellent high points but again some fielding and bowling issues to work on.

On Sunday the thirds braved really poor weather to get their cup game against Swinton Moorside completed, and it turned out to be a real nailbiter. Having won the toss, the visitors batted and were restricted to 123 all out; Awais was again the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-9, while Nick T, Jack Schoey and Sam all picked up wickets. In reply the Totts run chase got off to a terrible start with openers Donny and Sam both back in the pavilion inside 9 balls. However Raahil was determined to fight back and he raced to 30 from just 22 balls before getting out. Awais and Rowdy then put on useful runs, and at 80-4 we looked to be in a strong position. Three wickets fell for 7 runs and then a dogged partnership of 23 between young Jack and Nick got us in sight of victory. However two quick wickets left the final pair needing 13 to win. James hit a four to ramp up the tension but unfortunately couldn't quite get us over the line, the innings ending at 117.

Once again, some batting woes to follow another really promising bowling performance, and there's plenty to build on over the coming weeks.

Thanks as always to those to worked so hard before, during and after both games to ensure we got in a full weekend of cricket, and here's to an even more packed programme next week, with four games taking place - there's a T20 on Thursday, and the firsts are at home on Saturday and Sunday in a league and cup double header. The twos meanwhile travel to Bolton Indians hoping to build on this weekend's win. With the weather set fair for the end of the week, let's back our sides and carry on the great work.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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